World Islamic Economic Forum, islamic finance will be norm

But public still doubtful about true muslim values

30 October, 16:24

    Malaysian Muslim women chatting near  a mock Islamic Bank Mastercard card during its launch in Kuala Lumpur (archive) Malaysian Muslim women chatting near a mock Islamic Bank Mastercard card during its launch in Kuala Lumpur (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - In the near future, islamic finance will become the norm rather than an alternative as it is now. This was one of the concluding remarks at the World Islamic Economic Forum (Wief) wrapping up today in Dubai.

    Islamic finance - based on the rules of Sharia, or Islamic law - regulates 1.4% of the global market with assets valued between a trillion and a trillion and a half dollars, but as the conference confirmed, muslim customers remain doubtful and their scepticism hinders its growth.

    A study conducted by the consultancy firm PwC in Gulf Cooperation Council countries - the oil-producing bloc composed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman - revealed that only 52% of clients of islamic financial institutions believe that these banks actually follow rules and parameters complying with Sharia. It's not enough for the world's 400 something islamic institutions to rest on the "islamic" label to gain their clients' trust and guarantee themselves future growth. Financial products must reflect islamic values and that is the catch.

    Potential clients will not be won over by a neat separation from conventional services, on the other hand, the tendency to duplicate well established services will not convince the section of the clientele keener to find a stronger islamic connotation in is banks. "Opportunities for growth are staggering but to tap into this potential, banks must correct customer-perception and improve their services in order to bring them on a par with other financial institutions" said Ashruff Jamall, director of Islamic financial services at PwC. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), both promoters and beneficiaries of the growth of islamic banking, will play a fundamental role, stressed Hussein Al Qemzi, managing director of the Noor Bank, the Islamic bank of Dubai, in his opening address. According to Qemzi, islamic finance will soon be the norm and no longer the alternative but emphasis should be drawn on the need to unify interpretation and application by Sharia Boards. The standardisation of the islamic banking sector as a means to promote solid and stable growth was one of the themes running through the three-day Wief conference. (ANSAmed).

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